Park, Gladiator easily handle Sun Bear

DULUTH, GA – The last time the Orlando Solar Bears visited the Gas South Arena to play the Atlanta Gladiators, Gladiators goalkeeper Tyler Parks played almost flawlessly but suffered a heartbreaking 0-1 loss to the visitors. Friday night, Orlando was back to go and this time Parks was perfect.

Parks blocked all 39 shots he faced and got plenty of offensive support as hosts Atlanta (9-8-2-0) beat the Solar Bears (11-9-1-0) with a final score of 4-0 before a match was announced to a crowd of 3,818. Kameron Kielly led the way for the Gladiators with one goal and two assists, while Luke Nogard (goal, assist) and Michael Pelech (2 assists) added more points on the night.

The void is the second the Solar Bears have suffered in their last three laning games and dropped their record from Amway Center to 3-8-1-0. Orlando goalkeeper Hugo Alnefelt, starting for the second straight after being assigned to the Solar Bears by AHL Syracuse in midweek, stopped 22 of 24 shots before being replaced by Brad Barone seven minutes into the second half. Barone faced 23 shots on his own, 21 shots.

Alnefelt did well in the opening thirteen minutes of the competition. He denied the Gladiators’ first 12 shots into the net. However, the twelfth shot resulted in the first goal of the game. It was performed by Gabe Guertler from the top of the close-by confrontation circle. En route, Kielly grabbed a piece of it, forcing Alnefelt to make a slightly tougher save. The counter-attack came to the left of the keeper where Michael Turner scored his first goal of the season against the net.

Dropping just one point at the start of the second half, Orlando had hope of a comeback, but that hope was quickly dashed. An early penalty gave Atlanta a power play and the Gladiators tit for tat. Tim Davison makes a beautiful pass for Nogard, who is on the back of the Solar Bears’ defence. Nogard does a slit and instead of going into the net, he does a quick jab. Using a defender as a front, Nogard shot from long range and beat Alnefelt in his second game of the year.

The Solar Bears won their first man advantage less than two minutes later. Not much happened except that just past midfield, Alnefelt was replaced by Barone.

At the end of the period, Atlanta took the game out of reach with a couple of goals. At 15:55, Orlando’s Demitry Semykin lost his club, giving the Gladiators the advantage. Nogard grabbed the racquet and circled around the net, finding Tyler Kobryn alone in front. Kobryn had a shot that evaded Barone’s dive attempt to cross the bend and light up the goal for the second game of the season.

Then at 18:14, Josh Thrower hit a shot from the spot Barone had initially saved. Kielly got behind the defense and immediately made a shot on it that was also blocked. He stayed with the game, gathering his own recovery and scoring his first goal of the season to make it 4-0 after a break.

There’s no extra point in the competition as Barone and Parks handle things their way.

The loss dropped the Solar Bears to third in the South region behind first place Florida and second place Jacksonville, both of which were won Friday night. Orlando continues its six-game road trip on Saturday night in Jacksonville with a drop-off set for 7pm

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Subhankar Mondal

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